I had a good teaching moment yesterday and I wanted to share it with you–you being my regular readers and you being other ESL teachers out there who might also feel the ups and downs of ESL teaching. I meant to share this yesterday, but was too engrossed in a mystery about “likes” and their sudden and random appearance on my blog–the mystery has been solved.
Recently I have been tasked with teaching an elementary writing course. The class meets three times a week and the students are between the ages of 30 and 50 (I guess). The room I am teaching in does not have proper desks and does not have a smart board, or even a whiteboard–I am using a chart paper easel; the view of which is blocked/obscured by a double bank of computers. While this is less than ideal (I have taught in a paper shack with a car mechanic’s light overhead; the path to which was guarded by a loud and somewhat unpleasant dog), I am not complaining and doing my best to soldier on. The students haven’t complained–and that’s the most important thing. Actually, the students have been quite wonderful about the whole thing.
The Perfect Teaching Moment came by adapting an activity that I generally like doing. Normally I distribute some cards which contain a series of illustrations telling a story. Whether done in groups or as a whole class, a student describes the card and the students assemble the story. This works on their use of present continuous to describe pictures, lexical items, listening skills, question patterns, and pronunciation. I usually follow it up by retelling the story, orally or written, often changing the tense to simple past or utilizing all past tenses for higher level classes.
For yesterday, I gave out three different stories so that each student had a card with a piece of one of the stories. They then had to write about their card. I then had them leave their car face down on the table, mingle and read their descriptions. In doing so, they had to find all the parts of their story and then decided the sequence.
I followed this up by having them write their stories in past tense. The students were engaged for the whole lesson and worked hard at all parts. Additionally, the students seemed to like the activity. The oldest student, who happens to be a teacher, indicated he particularly enjoyed the activity. I consider that a good sign.
As this took up most of the class time, I am left with 12 stories to look at before the class reconvenes. I haven’t decided what kind of feedback I am going to do–If I had a smart board, I would probably have put all four versions of each story on the board and have the students create on definitive version. I highly doubt I am going to do that with a flipchart. As it is….I need time to think about it. However, any ideas from my fellow teachers and you creative types would certainly be welcome.